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Novavax Shares Climb as B. Riley FBR Raises Price Target

Novavax climbs after B. Riley FBR raises its price target to $53 a share from $43.

Shares of Novavax  (NVAX) - Get Novavax, Inc. Report, which is working on a cornavirus vaccine, were higher after an analyst with B. Riley FBR raised his share-price target on the biotech company to $53 a share from $43. 

Analyst Mayank Mamtani also reiterated his buy rating on the Gaithersburg, Md., company after hosting a meeting with Novavax management.

At last check the shares were 26% higher at $53.94.

The upgrade follows last week's announcement that Novavax would be receiving up to $388 million in funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to advance clinical development of its coronavirus vaccine candidate.

The additional funding, Novavax said, would support a rapid scale-up of the NVX-CoV2373 vaccine antigen and enable the company to “dramatically increase its large-scale manufacturing capacity.”

Mamtani said in a note to investors that Novavax not only offers a clinically validated adjuvanted recombinant nanoparticle platform but also shows itself able to elicit a potent immune response at extremely low doses. This bodes favorably for both safety and scalability.

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With the regulatory path "becoming relatively clearer," Mamtani said, he increased the NVX-CoV2373 probability of success to 40% from 25%.

In other vaccine-related news, Moderna shares were soaring Monday after the biotech company said results from its first human trial of its experimental coronavirus vaccine were positive.

The Cambridge, Mass., company said it would begin a Phase III trial in July, earlier than it previously hoped.

Several companies have been working on a coronavirus vaccine, including Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report, BioNTech  (BNTX) - Get BioNTech SE Report, and Altimmune  (ALT) - Get Altimmune, Inc. Report.

President Donald Trump on Friday unveiled Operation Warp Speed, a government coordinating effort aimed at securing a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year. 

The White House said the initiative is evaluating roughly 100 vaccine candidates from all over the world and has identified more than 14 believed to be the most promising.